Reznor uses images of the Holocaust and World War II, events that people worldwide remember. These events allow Reznor to expand the meaning of his lyrics to people all around the world through universal memories. His lyrics tied to the images of the Holocaust create a deeper meaning and direct the viewer to remember the massacre inflicted on the world by the Nazis, which are memories that stir many a heart to sadness or anger. He talks about trying to forget memories and that the only thing he feels is pain, a vey universal feeling. When he says “Try to kill it all away, But I remember everything,” it conveys a feeling of desperateness and hopelessness, as a last resort turning to self-inflicted pain in a last attempt to forget the memories that plague him.
At the end, the song goes “If I could start again,” both singers give this line meaning.
For Reznor, the images are tied to his longing to go back and change his use of drugs. For Cash, it was a longing to fix the fact that he focused more on his career than his family, a sentiment that he could not get rid of and that came back to haunt him. The first line of the chorus reads “What have I become?” For both men, they looked back and realized that they had become the very person that they would have scorned in their past. “I cannot repair… I will let you down….”
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